On base jobs
On base jobs

SEEKING EMPLOYMENT: I am new to the island. I have an education and viable skills. I am looking for employment while living on Okinawa, but am lost about where to start.

WANTED: Competent employees with education and skills to work on a US military base. Many career fields offered and experience may not be necessary. There will be some hoops to jump through to get a job on Okinawa’s military bases, but employment is waiting for you.

It’s a common story. You find yourself living in Okinawa without a job. Maybe your spouse got an assignment to come here and you left the job you had back at your last station. Perhaps you’ve never worked on a military base before. Most jobs back in the States don’t have a branch in Okinawa where you can transfer! Now you are here and you would like to find gainful employment. This post is here to help you look for a job on base!

Two helpful attributes to keep in mind are flexibility and patience. Chances are the exact job you had in the states might not be available here. While you are looking, keep in mind what skills you have that can carry over from career field to career field. When you have a chance to present yourself to future employers, think of the past skills and abilities you have gained and emphasize how they will carry over to a future job, instead of dwelling on lack of experience.

It helps to be patient. A job hunt always takes time, and many jobs on base require a background check before you can start earning that first pay check. This can take time and leave you wondering if the employer was still considering you for the job. Be persistent and check in with your hiring agency if you haven’t heard from them in a while, but also be patient and realize the process will take a little time.

There are a few terms that play a part here that you may not have run into while seeking State-side employment in the past. First is SOFA status. SOFA stands for Status of Forces Agreement. It is the set of rules and regulations that our host country and the U.S. government have agreed upon. Military personnel, some civilians stationed in Okinawa, and their dependents have SOFA status here. If you have SOFA status you are allowed to live in Okinawa without another visa for the length of your assignment. Some jobs on Okinawa’s military bases require that you have SOFA status when you apply. These jobs are primarily for military dependents who have SOFA status with or without their job. Other jobs offer SOFA status if you do not already have it. Check the job descriptions carefully if you do not currently have SOFA status.

Military Spouse Preference (MSP) is offered to military spouses looking for employment with a Department of Defense (DoD) facility. This is a hiring advantage given as a way of recognizing that military spouses have to find new employment with every PCS of their spouse. With each new station, military spouses can use this preference until they land a full time job. When employers look at candidates for a job opening they are required to review military spouses first. If two or more candidates have equal qualifications, preference is given to the military spouse. Once you have started a continuing (not part time, flexible or temporary) position, you have used your MSP for this PCS and will not be able to use it again to seek employment until your next PCS. There are lots of military spouses looking for employment on Okinawa, so if you fall into this category, make sure you have properly indicated your MSP on your application.

Of course, different jobs have different requirements as far as previous education and training, citizenship, prior experience and abilities. Make sure you read the job description and fill out each application carefully. In some cases you may be disqualified if you do not indicate that you have fulfilled the requirements. If you have questions, contact the hiring agency.

There are quite a few avenues for gaining employment on a base. There may be more than are listed here, but this should get you started:

Agency/type: Air Force Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF)
On line application:
Physical office: Kadena HRO, building 723 (On Douglas Ave between Kuter Ave and Gate 3); 634-2330 Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
What kind of jobs: Hourly wage jobs in a wide variety of positions for 18th Force Support Squadron including cashier, child care, customer service, food service, recreation and more.

Agency/type: Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) NAF
On line application:

Physical office: 645-8229 or Camp Foster 645-3151/3154; Camp Kinser 637-1307; Camp Courtney 622-7878; Camp Hansen 623-7736; Camp Schwab 625-2699;

What kind of jobs: Hourly wage jobs in a wide variety of positions for the MCCS including child care, food service, family readiness, human resources and more.

Agency/type: Federal Service General Schedule (GS) for all branches
On line application:
Physical office: Civilian Personnel Office (CPO) on the corresponding branch
Marine Corps and Navy: Civilian Human Resources Office (CHRO), Camp Butler, Bldg 495, 2nd floor; 645-2475 or 645-3380
Air Force: Kadena Civilian Personnel Flight, Bldg 721, Wing A; 634-1358 or 634-3285
Army: Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC), Torii Station, Bldg 236; 644-4401
What kind of jobs: Salaried, generally “white collar” positions, commissary positions

Agency/type: Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) positions in the DoD schools
On line application:
Physical office: Tori Station, Bldg 214; 644-5799
What kind of jobs: Education and school support positions

Agency: Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES)
On line application:
Physical office: AAFES Recruiting Office, Camp Foster, Bldg 490
What kind of jobs: Retail and support positions at AAFES facilities

Agency: US Naval Hospital Okinawa
On line application:
Physical office: Navy Human Resources Office (HRO) at Kadena AB, Bldg. #3596; 315-634-6714 or commercial 01181-611-734-6714.
What kind of jobs: Health care and medical support

Agency: Community Bank
On line application:
Physical office: Torii Station, Bldg 420; 644-5463/5464

Agency: Pentagon Federal Credit Union
On line application:
Physical office: Kadena AB, Bldg 420; 632-7328/633-4505

Agency: Navy Federal Credit Union
On line application:
Physical office: Camp Foster, Bldg 1008/1009; 645-7331

Agency/type: Army Civilian Service (NAF and GS)
On line application:
Physical office: U. S. Army HRO, Torii Stations, Bldg 236 (Army MWR); 644-4270
What kind of jobs: A variety of positions both salaried and hourly

Agency: United Services Organization (USO)
On line application:
Physical office: Kadena AB, Bldg 337; 633-0438

Happy job hunting!


  1. Okinawa is where spouses go to have professional aspirations and careers crushed. Marketable skills here are lawn mowing, waiting tables, childcare, IT, and possibly nursing. If you have any other skills, plan on explaining how they can help you bag groceries or give them away for free as a Red Cross volunteer.

  2. Okinawa Sports Officials Service has referee jobs available for football, soccer, baseball, volleyball, softball basketball, you can volunteer or get paid for your support of Okinawa Youth & Adult Sports programs. If you have experience great! if not we can train you and get you going, please call 090-829-29431 or email me at [email protected] if you are interested in getting involved in Okinawa Sports Athletics programs.

  3. The hiring process not just for naf but all on base hires is bogus and one sided. If you do not have sofa but are more qualified than a defendant then you will not get hired. Regardless of degree. Also if you know people then your chances improve( especially with MCCS). I’m speaking from experience as I have been here for 16 yrs and was able to land one sofa job. At this point I’ve written my congressman to complain. Why should I have to show up for an interview just so they can meet their quota of interviewing three people when they already have someone set in their minds to hire. I’ve got three kids and the time for grab ass is over. If I’m qualified then I’m qualified.

  4. It is very helpful information. Thank you for sharing it 🙂
    Before coming to Oki, I used to work in the hospital.
    I am worried if I can find a job in Okinawa as a RN.
    I know there’s U.S. Navy Hospital that hires nurses, however, one of the requirements is having a U.S. citizenship. Currently I am a permanent resident, but not a citizen yet. I am not sure what to do…

    • Jocelyn,
      If you are a spouse of U.S. citizen service member who are (or will be) deployed for a year or more, you may be eligible for expedited naturalization.
      Time as permanent resident and continuos residence requirements are waived at this case. All you need is to be a permanent resident at the time of your USCIS

  5. Wow, this is an amazing website and message board. I am soon to arrive in Okinawa from the UK, where I have a good job and progressive career. I have chosen to make family life priority; it would be nice to continue somewhere on my career path in Okinawa but getting the above feedback will prepare me. Either way I am excited…’s a new chapter 🙂

  6. If you have SOFA status, go to your nearest Elementary on base and apply to be a sub! They are always needing folks! No, you will not necessarily work a lot. But, it is employment that gets you in the door with the school, while you are looking for something full time. It took about 2 months for me to get started subbing with the paperwork and background checks.. So don’t delay.

    • Coleen,
      Good reminder! The middle and high schools also are looking for subs. All pay about $99/day. Some of the schools stop accepting sub applications once they have met their quota for the year.

  7. Even military spouses who are SOFA status have a difficult time getting jobs here. That is just how Okinawa is, and you have to accept that, and not feel defeated. I have SOFA status, have a Bachelors Degree, had an amazing job in the States, and here, it took me 6 months to get hired at a bank after getting here… making little more than minimum wage! And I am lucky to have that job, based on other’s stories I’ve heard. I’ve lived on Okinawa for close to 3 years for reference. I have also applied through usajobs and mccs several times with no luck. There are just so few jobs here (we can’t really go off-base to work) and there are so many military spouses fighting for these positions. So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get something in the first 6-months or so… it’s not you – It’s just Okinawa! But having SOFA status really helps – its hard enough to get a job WITH SOFA status, I can’t imagine how hard it would be without!

  8. The Job market for Non-SOFA personnel is NOTHING AVAILABLE. Military Spouses are first preference. Veterans on a Visa are LAST Choice. There are several Japanese Temp Agencies. Job Plenty, Pro-Staff and On-Time. I do not recommend On Time Staffing.
    They are pushy, obnoxious, and they give you very LITTLE information about the job they offer to you. You will find out what the job is REALLY like after you are stuck there.
    Job Plenty and Pro Staff are quite helpful, but I am still not employed. I hope that you have better luck than I have.

    • This is a very old post, but it’s good to find out about these temp agencies. But is it possible to use them if you are not SOFA? I would guess not since it is not a military service. Just checking.

      • Hey Tara, in case you haven’t been informed yet, you can not work in a temp agency without a visa or residence card. The temp agencies are Japanese companies. Even though they hire for on-base work, they can not grant SOFA status, they just have people sign and escort you on base everyday before work.

  9. Hey guys! I am planning on moving to Okinawa in October. My boyfriend is a Marine Corps officer stationed in Okinawa, and I am currently in the Navy Reserves, just off 3 years of active duty. I also have my BA in Mathematics. I don’t have a job yet, so I am going to have to go over there on a tourist visa and hope to god that I am able to find a job within 3 months. I have been trying to apply for jobs over here so that the visa won’t be an issue, however it seems that every job I have found only hires people who are currently in Okinawa. I am very lost, and any guidance that anyone may have would be greatly appreciated.

    • You guys might not be at that level, but it would just be easier if you got married. A lot of people have trouble getting a job if they arent Sofa status.

    • Hey Jamie,

      I am in the same boat. My boyfriend is in the Air Force stationed in Okinawa and I am out here right now trying to get a job. I have to leave now in August and am doing everything I know of to find a job with SOFA sponsorship. Let me know if you know of anything… I’m running into a lot of dead ends. Lol and despite the advice from Karen, we aren’t going to just get married to make it easier. We do plan on getting married one day but we want to get married in the States with our family around. If we wanted to go that route getting a job wouldn’t even be a necessity… I wouldn’t need one to stay here lol

  10. Thank you thank you! I’m moving to Kadena AFB in Feb 2012, and I’m really nervous about finding a job there. However, I don’t know about other people’s experience, but I have NEVER had success applying for jobs through I’ve applied for several jobs while still in the states, and has only sent me email saying I wasn’t qualified for the job (even there I was) and didn’t explain why I wasn’t qualified. The main office in Texas never answers their phone and don’t respond to faxes.

    ANYWAYS (lol), I am so excited and nervous to move to Kadena. I want to work because I like making money but I think not working would mean I could experience the island. Thank you for all your useful information about Okinawa

    • Hey Chrystal I feel the same way. My family and I will be there in March 2012. Hoping all goes well when we get to Kadena!!! I am so ready to be there!!!! Good luck with your move!


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